Moving out of Lockdown – An Employers Guide

Business Insights

The UK has been in lockdown officially from March 23rd, 2020 due to CO-VID19, some Companies are continuing to work to provide key services and are following the Public Health England Guidelines.

The Government have announced various schemes to help employers during this pandemic, including the Job Retention Scheme, Self Employed Scheme and many others and they have confirmed that there will be no changes to the current restrictions until at least 6th May

Not a lot has been said about how to help employers support employees emotionally and how to re-engage them back to work following lockdown, however its important to start to think about this.

Actions During Lockdown

There are several actions an employer can take to engage with employees during lockdown, actions to keep compliant to employment legislation and to prepare the business for a return.

It is important to keep in regular contact, keep employees updated on what is happening in the business, keep open communication and have weekly social get togethers, obviously by video if not in person.

With regards to homeworkers set them daily or weekly objectives to keep them focused and motivated and a nice touch is to send employees a ‘Thank You’ Card/E-Card to say thanks for their commitment, it’s a small act with a big impact.

If employees are struggling identify ways to support them, listen to them and provide the appropriate support. Check if you have an Employee Assistance Programme as part of your company pension scheme.

Some employment legislation has been temporarily amended, however the majority has not changed and an employer must still comply with it to ensure that costly claims are not submitted.

Ensure you have Issued furloughed employees' letters and have signed letters on file, which must be kept for 5 year and ensure you have all the information for making a claim under the Job Retention Scheme.

A large number of employers have employees working from home, it is important to send homeworkers a temporary working from home agreement, this will ensure that policies and procedures are reaffirmed, particularly in regards to absence management and data protection.

Although it is a temporary arrangement I would still suggest that employers send homeworking health and safety guidance to all employees working at home.

During lockdown a business may have changed the way it operates or will do in the future, so it is important to think about your operating model and think about how this affects roles in your business and develop a change/redundancy plan.

If you don’t have a vision or mission statement, write one, this will help reengage employees when they return to work, this can be the same for developing your culture.

Actions to Prepare for a Return to Work

Think about what resources will you need based on what work you have or believe you will have and plan a Rota for your employees return to work or to the office. What ever you create will need to adhere to Public Health England Guidelines as these may not change straightaway.

Communicate your plan in a personal way, either in person or by video.

Following communication of your plan, it is important that you talk to the employee to talk to you about their concerns. Also Identify and develop an Employee Support Programme to support employees that may be having difficulties with the situation.

Actions to Take on Return to Work

On first day of return meet with employees as a team, welcome back, update them on what you have been doing, talk through vision/mission, culture, and objectives of the business, this will help engage and connect with the business again.

Meet with employees individually on day of return and do a wellbeing meeting (how are they feeling, do they need any support and within the first week of return, discuss the employee’s role and reconfirm the expectations, develop objectives to help them get focused again. Carryout weekly reviews with each employee for first 2/3 months or as required

It is a good idea to buddy employees up to provide support to each other and help picking up skills that they may not have used for a while.

There may be an increase in requests for flexible working in employees may have got used to this and working from home. Ensure you deal with them in line with the relevant employment legislation.

Engaging with employees is really important during and after lockdown so ensure you have a plan in place.

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